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Dozens more Australians arrive in Frankfurt, but others left behind

Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday February 5, 2011

Paola Totaro FRANKFURT

ANOTHER 92 exhausted Australians have arrived in Frankfurt from Cairo after being delayed for another tense 24 hours when their Qantas evacuation aircraft was grounded in Germany with a mechanical problem.A total of 103 passengers were on board - less than a quarter of the capacity of the jumbo. Three people were unable to board the second charter flight with eight accompanying relatives choosing to stay on as a result.Kathryn Hingston had been in Cairo visiting her son, Hamish, 20, who plays professional volleyball in Egypt. She emerged looking tired and relieved - but said she remains anxious about the situation in the capital and her son's fate."We saw tanks, so many tanks and the military on the streets ... it was very difficult," she said."Hamish lives in a compound and we were assured he will be OK ... but he wants to sit tight and, yes, I'm worried if it gets worse."Natalie Watkins, 32, from Melbourne, has taught at a Cairo high school for 10 years. She said the situation became terrifying when anti-government protesters began to clash with pro-Mubarak men."I knew I had to get out then ... everything is in my house but my life is more important."Terry Turle, a British-born Australian, emerged with a video camera and said he had just spent a week with Zahir Hawas, the newly appointed Egyptian culture minister. He said he had shot 90 minutes film of Tahrir Square after spending earlier weeks shooting a documentary on Egypt's museums.He described the situation as "a garden party of one and a half million people in Tahrir Square" and insisted that looting in the museums was minimal.Consular staff have been faced with complex immigration issues as some Australians with dual Egyptian citizenship are of military service age and must have special exemption documentation to be allowed out of the country.Escalating violence has made it impossible to transfer another 27 passengers who are holedup in the Conrad Hotel on Tahrir Square to the airport. Australian officials are also staying atthe hotel and will move the group as soon as it is deemed safe.The federal government has said it will continue to assist all Australians who wish to leave but it is now likely they will be helped onto commercial or other evacuation flights.

© 2011 Sydney Morning Herald

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